Sunday, August 11, 2013

Recital Day 2013: I Still Can't Believe How Right It Went

first dance recital

It was literally one of the best moments of my life. I'm standing in the dark backstage at the dress rehearsal, waiting for my own number. P. is waiting outside with a friend, having already ran through her own routines.


One of my fellow dancers turns to me and says "I saw your girl running through her numbers - she did so well!" And then I melted.

first dance recital

This was the deal: P. didn't have to dance. All she had to do was go out on stage with her class and not cry. Not that she was necessarily in danger of a breakdown, but she's a timid little thing and you never know. The reward (read, bribe) for making it through the dress rehearsal was a trip to one of our local ice cream stands. The reward for making it through both the dress rehearsal and the recital itself was a trip to the toy store.

first dance recital

Now I want you to know that I would not have forced P. to dance in the show if she truly didn't want to. Turns out, I am not a dance mom. I know this because she balked at being a part of the big group number and I didn't push it. But she was on the fence when it came to the recital itself, so I incentivized it. Transformed something unfamiliar and a little weird into something positive.

first dance recital

I also did one of the smartest things I have probably ever done in a situation like this and hustled her into the high school to see the stage the day before the dress rehearsal. Four-year-olds - at least my four-year-old - can be incredibly averse to novelty, which is less exciting than it is terrifying. A stage? P. had never seen a stage or an auditorium from the performer's side outside of books, so a few minutes before the maintenance staff locked up we scuttled through the empty halls looking for our performance space.

first dance recital

First, she stood on the stage. Then we explored the wings. I showed her how she'd wait with her class and then file out into the center of the stage. I told her she wouldn't really see the audience because they'd be sitting in the dark. I explained that the empty seats would be filled with people. And I tried to think of all the little details that I, having spent years performing, would take for granted so nothing would come as a surprise.

first dance recital

It's likely that I forgot more than I remembered, but it worked. At the dress rehearsal, everything P. saw was something she'd seen before, and then at the show it was as all old hat as anything can be when you've been on the planet for less than half a decade.

first dance recital jitters

And the box of candy helped. I know from experience that it's hard to focus on recital jitters when you're running around like a crazy person stuffing your face with  sweets.

first recital jitters

At the end of the big recital, P. got her ice cream outing and she got her toy - and this mama got to experience that amazing feeling of having my child join me in doing something I love.  Who knows if she'll dance for the rest of her life or she'll want to switch to soccer or singing or art classes after another year or two.

No matter what, though, she and I will always have this one perfect wonderful weekend in our shared history, and you can't beat that!

6 comments:

  1. How wonderful that you share that experience performing now. I think it was a great idea to take her to see the stage beforehand - must have made something completely new a little less intimidating.

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    1. I think it made it a lot more fun - she liked dancing on the stage with the lights up, so it was even more exciting to dance for an audience!

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  2. Yay!! SO glad it went so well! Love your pictures! I'm sure she'll remember this day always!! --Lisa

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  3. So awesome!! I love that you dance too. My sisters were both dancers but I was too awkward, I think. I was always stage crew for everything because I do love the wonders of dark, hushed audiences and studio lights. I just like to be the one making that happen from the wings! Scarlet is interested in dance this fall. Should be interesting!

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    1. I did dance and theatre, and was always in awe of the folks like you who kept everything running on the technical end. Without the crew, there would be no show!

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